The single most significant factor influencing a child’s early educational success is an introduction to books and being read to at home prior to beginning school.
National Commission on Reading, 1985
Reading with your child is a brain building activity and should undoubtedly become routine in your child’s life. At just a few months of age, a child can listen to your voice as you point to pictures on a page and be engaged; this is what reading looks like for very young children and is especially important until they make the switch from learning to read to reading to learn (approx 3rd grade).
Here are 10 tips for parents of young children explaining how you can participate in your child’s learning with the use of books:
Create a Bedtime Reading Zone
Read in your child’s bedroom, surrounded by their favorite things: a blanket, stuffed toy, night-light.
Why? Being in a familiar place stimulates all the senses at once, making the experience pleasurable and memorable and creating positive associations with reading.
Have your child sit next to you or on your lap to provide him with a feeling of security.
Why? When a child feels insecure, the body releases a hormone that can interfere with learning. Creating a warm, close bond makes the child comfortable and can help him learn.
Find Your Child’s Pace
Start with short reading sessions and slowly build up to longer sessions.
Why? There is a difference in what a child can do with guidance (potential development) and what a child can do without assistance (actual development). Building up reading time keeps your child challenged and helps your child transition from reading with help to reading independently.
Act out the characters and use variation in your voice while reading the story.
Why? This helps your child develop critical listening skills and makes reading time more fun.
Read with Your Eyes and Fingers
Run your finger under the words as you read.
Why? Running fingers under the text trains a child’s eyes to follow words and symbols from left to right. Also, one of the first steps when learning to read is hearing sounds in the words. This teaches that speech is made up of different individual words and sounds.
Read favorite books more than once.
Why? When a child reads a book over and over, he can learn to predict the outcomes and recognize patterns. This helps your child learn and store new information and builds upon his memory.
Make a Point
Point out pictures, shapes, colors, and page numbers.
Why? This develops an understanding of printed material.
Enunciate your words, but speak as normally as possible while reading aloud. Pay close attention to grammar as your child is paying close attention to you.
Why? When listening to a parent read, a child listens to spoken language. This helps his ability to express thoughts and communicate using correct grammar.
Share and Compare
Make comparisons as you read. For example, “Which tree is taller?” Or, “You have blonde hair. What color hair does Goldilocks have?”
Why? Comparing and contrasting helps children create connections and find meanings in these connections.
Play a Game
After finishing a story, ask the child what happened in the beginning, middle, and end.
Why? This stimulates higher-order thinking because your child has to analyze the story and tell you in her own words what happened. This will also enhance your child’s listening and reading comprehension skills.
Visit National Center for Family Learning or How Kids Develop for more helpful tips and Bernie’s Book Bank for a list of 18 facts you should know related the importance of reading to and with your children.